Historical Journal

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Bill Richards: Abstract Painting

September 6, 1985
Judith Stein

A writer and curator, studied at Barnard College, and has a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Eye of the Sixties, Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art, (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016). Her curatorial projects include Red Grooms, A Retrospective, for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and The Figurative Fifties, New York School Figurative Expressionism, co-curated with Paul Schimmel. Her exhibition, I Tell My Heart: The Art of Horace Pippin, traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1995, and earned a best catalogue award from AICA/USA. Her articles, interviews and reviews have appeared in Art in America, Art News, and The New York Times Book Review, as well as on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air and Morning Edition. Among her honors is a Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant; a Pew Fellowship for literary non-fiction; and a Lannan Foundation writing residency in Marfa, Texas.

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September 6 through October 20, 1985
Artist Statement
From my days as an art student until now, I have equally liked art oriented toward restraint and emotiveness. My responses to neoclassicism and romanticism and to all previous and subsequent parallel developments have been without a preference, resulting in some uncertainty regarding how my own work should be keyed.
After numerous sojourns in one direction or the other, this conflict was eventually to become the substance of my work. However, the inclusion of the two disparate attitudes in a diptych format abrogated the conflict, since the coupling, like a centaur, paradigmatically establishes a relationship. That is, instead of either/or, the coupling creates a complementary presentment with each segment of the pair positively influencing the other as they form a new totality. This totality is at once autobiographical and expansive, allowing me the freedom to incorporate into my work many of my previous painting ideas with newly discovered relationships. I build the paintings in layers while keeping the attitudes separated by different time frames so that when two panels are mated, the disjunctive relationship will come as a surprise to me.
Though it may encompass collage or collage attitudes, disjunctive (centaurian) order is primarily a juxtaposition rather than a superimposition of disparateness. The centaur, the prototypal disjunctively unified creation, emblematically unified Apollo and Dionysos (reason and intuition) and remains a symbol for reconciled disparate order. And it is the realm of order and its logic that abstract painting addresses.
Bill Richards
June 1985
1. BURNT CREEK, 1975-1985
Acrylic, oil, and oil stick on canvas
Diptych 96 x 144″
2. SCUTELLUM, 1983-1985
Acrylic and oil stick on canvas
Diptych, 90 x 132″
3. ORIFLAMME, 1982-1985
Acrylic and oil stick on canvas
Diptych, 90 x 132″
Acrylic and oil stick on canvas
Diptych, 90 x 132″
5. FORKS RUN, 1984-1985
Acrylic, collage, and oil stick on paper
38-1/2 x 50-3/4″ (framed)
6. SHIELD, 1985
Acrylic, collage, and oil stick on paper
Diptych 42-1/2 x 62-1/2″ (framed)
7. BLESH, 1985
Acrylic, collage, and oil stick on paper
Diptych 42-1/2 x 62-1/2″ (framed)
All work is shown courtesy of the artist.
Bill Richards, who for many years taught painting at Moore College of Art, now lives in New York City. He was born in Grantsville, West Virginia, in 1936, and received his B.F.A. from Ohio University in 1958. He attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1959 and was granted the M.F.A. degree from Indiana University in 1960.
Solo exhibitions of Richards’s work include: Seigfred Gallery of Ohio University (1979); La Bertesca Gallery, Dusseldorf, West Germany (1977); Olympia Galleries, Philadelphia (1976); Marian Locks Gallery, Philadelphia (1975); Henri Gallery, Washington, DC (1973); Vanderlip Gallery, Philadelphia (1968). Group shows include: Large Drawings, traveling show organized by Independent Curators, Inc. (1985-87); Exuberant Abstraction, 100 Church Street, NY (1985); Three Approaches to Abstraction, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, and Salisbury College, Salisbury, MD (1984 85); Nineteen Artists – Emergent Americans: 1981 Exxon National Exhibition, Guggenheim Museum, NY (1982); 1975 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, NY (1975); Made in Philadelphia fl, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (1974); 163rd Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1968); Martha Jackson Gallery, NY (1967); New Directions, YMHA, Philadelphia (1966).
Among the Collections which include his work are: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; The Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The New Jersey State Museum, Trenton; Indiana University; Ohio University; Dechert Price & Rhoads, Philadelphia; Westinghouse Corporation, Pittsburgh;.Thalheimer and Associates, Philadelphia; IBM Corporation, Poughkeepsie, NY.
Selected Biblography
United States and Canada, traveling museum exhibition, Large Drawings, organized by Independent Curators, Inc., N.Y.C. (curated and introductory essay by Elke Solomon), 1985 through 1987.
Pittsburgh, PA, PPG Place and Three Rivers Arts Festival, New York Painting Today (curated and introduction by Elaine King and essay by Donald B. Kuspit), 1983.
Orlando, FL, Loch Haven Art Center, Selections from the Westinghouse Art Collection (essay, “About the Collection” by Cynthia Fazio, cover reproduction, reproduction p. 11), 1983.
New York City, Guggenheim Museum, Nineteen Artists
Emergent Americans: 1981 Exxon National Exhibition (curated and introductory essay by Peter Frank), 1981.
Athens, OH, Seigfred Gallery of Ohio U., Bill Richards (interview with Donald Roberts), 1979.
Philadelphia, PA, Olympia Galleries, Ltd., Bill Richards, 1976.
New York City, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1975 Whitney Biennial Exhibition, 1975.
Philadelphia, PA, Institute of Contemporary Art, Made in Philadelphia // (foreword by Suzanne Delehanty), 1974.

Rickey, Carrie, “Curatorial Conceptions/The Guggenheim; Singular Pluralism,” Artforum, Vol. 19, No. 8 (April 1981).
Schwartz, Ellen, “At The Whitney and The Guggenheim: No Surprises,” Art News, Vol. 80, No. 4 (April 1981), pp.122-127.
Stedman, Nancy, “Chelsea Artist – Bill Richards,” Chelsea Clinton News, Feb. 12, 1981.
Frank, Peter, “Bill Richards at Olympia,” Art in America, Vol. 65, No. 2 (March/April 1977), p.1 19.
Jarmusch, Ann, “Philadelphia: Two Out of Eight,” Art News, Vol. 76, No. 1 (January 1977), pp. 92-94.
Jarmusch, Ann, “Bill Richards,” Philadelphia Arts Exchange, Vol. 1., No. 1 (Jan./Feb. 1977), pp. 12 -14.
Donohoe, Victoria, “Art,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 9, 1975.
Forman, Nessa, “Art,” Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin, November 12, 1974.
Richard, Paul, “Review,” Washington Post, November 19, 1973.
“Personal Notes on Abstraction,” Three Approaches to Abstraction, folder published by Anderson Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth U., 1984.
“Surface Tension, The Art of A.N. Christie,” Philadelphia Arts Exchange, Vol. 1, No. 3 (May/June 1977), pp. 6-9.
“Art Plight – The Philadelphia Triangle,” Art in America, Vol. 64, No. 4 (July/August 1976), pp. 74-77.
The Morris Gallery displays the work of outstanding contemporary artists with a connection to Philadelphia, determined by birth, schooling, or residence. The exhibitions are chosen by a committee composed of area artists, museum personnel and collectors, and the curatorial staff of the Academy. Currently serving on the Morris Gallery Exhibition Committee are: Cynthia Carlson, Bill Freeland, Ofelia Garcia, Dr. Helen Herrick, Jay Richardson Massey, Cheryl McClenney, John Moore, Eileen Rosenau, Mark Rosenthal; Academy staff: Judith Stein, Morris Gallery coordinator, Frank Goodyear, Jr., Linda Bantel, Betty Romanella; and Academy students Ed Lewis and Anna Yates.
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